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‘Farce’ as 89 lorries join no-deal trial

Airport: Trucks at Manston PICTURE: PA

A rehearsal to test plans for tackling traffic chaos in the event of a no-deal Brexit was branded a ‘farce’ when only 89 lorries turned up.

Drivers had been offered £550 to assemble yesterday at the former Manston airport in Kent. The site, 20 miles north of Dover, is earmarked as a holding facility to ease potential delays at the Channel port, which handles 10,000 lorries a day.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling had wanted up to 150 lorries to take part in the trial to see how many could set off at once without causing rush-hour jams en route to Dover.

Jeremy Corbyn called the rehearsal ‘shambolic’ and said Mr Grayling had a ‘PhD in incompetence’. The Labour leader told MPs: ‘He awarded a shipping contract to a company with no ships, and today we see a fake traffic jam to pretend to the EU that the government is ready for a no-deal.’

The Road Haulage Association said the trial was ‘too little, too late’. And Lib Dem MP Layla Moran called it a ‘taxpayer-funded farce’. But the transport department hailed it a success. ‘The numbers that took part in today’s trial exceeded what was required,’ a spokeswoman said.